Transparency is a great thing. Except when it is not, such as when a business wisely wants to shield critical information from competitors and others in a position to take advantage of it.
So as much as knowing the details of other organizations’ partnership deals—whether total revenue, individual deal terms, valuations, etc.—would be immensely helpful for sponsorship sellers and buyers across the industry, it’s rare when those specifics emerge from behind the corporate veil.
But every so often—occasionally through litigation documents that are made public, sometimes through investigative reporting or leaked information—a financial nugget emerges that provides some useful intelligence and context.
Such a figure has become public thanks to Forbes senior contributor Maury Brown, who has long reported on the business of baseball.
In late August, Brown wrote that Oakland A’s managing partner John Fisher must have used “an accounting trick” to claim in an interview with Las Vegas media that the team would lose $40 million this year. Subsequently, an unnamed “high-placed baseball industry insider with intimate knowledge of the (A’s) finances” shared details of the team’s P&L with Brown, who published those specifics in a Forbes piece this week.
Among the interesting numbers reported was that the team’s sponsorship revenue in 2022 was $10 million and is projected to drop to $6 million this year, reflecting the lame-duck period as the club readies to leave Oakland for Vegas.
Using the slightly more usual year of 2022, we can use the $10 million figure as benchmark to surmise what other MLB teams earn from corporate partnerships. This is of course far from an exact science (more on that below), but an obvious method would be to use each franchise’s overall value as compared to the A’s to calculate sponsorship revenue.
For example, using Sportico’s team value rankings, the A’s are worth $1.31 billion. The most valuable league franchise, the New York Yankees, are worth $7.13 billion, or 5.44 times the A’s. Thus we can deduce that the Yankees’ sponsorship revenue would be $54.43 million.
Before we look at the calculations for each MLB team using this formula, a few caveats.
One, while Brown was able to verify some of the information he received with independent third-party sources, it is not clear if the sponsorship figure is among that group.
Two, the elements of valuation that a potential buyer would use to determine investment are not the same as those of a potential brand partner.
It’s a reasonable assumption that given their pending move, low attendance and lack of on-field performance over the past few years, the A’s have been the bottom of the barrel when it comes to attracting local sponsorship. But they are not the least valuable team in the league. Sportico ranks them 26 out of 30 MLB teams, higher than the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins.
In other words, I would be willing to bet that the sponsorship revenue of every other team, including those bottom four, is considerably higher than $10 million.
Three, there are plenty of variables that will skew a particular franchise’s revenue numbers—such as whether they can lay claim to stadium naming rights. Some of those factors would figure into the total team valuation figures, while others would not.
With those caveats established, it’s still an interesting exercise to use the A’s figures to look at the possible correlation between franchise value and sponsorship revenue, so I did the math and here are the results:
Team. Projected Sponsorship Revenue
New York Yankees $54.43 million
Los Angeles Dodgers $40 million
Boston Red Sox $39.77 million
Chicago Cubs $35.8 million
San Francisco Giants $29.08 million
New York Mets $21.53 million
Atlanta Braves $20.99 million
Houston Astros $19.69 million
Philadelphia Phillies $18.78 million
Los Angeles Angels $18.7 million
St. Louis Cardinals $18.63 million
Washington Nationals $16.64 million
Toronto Blue Jays $15.04 million
Texas Rangers $14.73 million
San Diego Padres $14.27 million
Chicago White Sox $14.05 million
Seattle Mariners $13.74 million
Baltimore Orioles $12.21 million
Minnesota Twins $11.91 million
Milwaukee Brewers $11.45 million
Detroit Tigers $11.15 million
Cincinnati Reds $10.61 million
Colorado Rockies $10.46 million
Cleveland Guardians $10.38 million
Arizona Diamondbacks $10.16 million
Oakland A’s $10 million
Pittsburgh Pirates $9.62 million
Kansas City Royals $9.24 million
Tampa Bay Rays $9.08 million
Florida Marlins $8.17 million